by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director
Why should I be in the union?
The answer depends on what matters most to you regarding your employment.
A majority of members say wages and benefits matter most. On that front, the wages of APA members steadily increase each year. The bargained wage increase for 2014 was 2% and this October will be 2.5%. The next three years will be a range of 2.6% to 1% depending on the increase of the health care spend (if the health care spend is an unprecedented increase above 11%, there could be a wage freeze).
The health care benefits will be fully-funded through December 31, 2017. There will be no premium share for the duration of the Wage and Health Care Memorandum of Understanding. The non-unionized tenure track faculty and academic specialists pay a monthly health care premium for the same health care coverage bargained by APA. There is a difference and it is financial.
All other benefits and working conditions are bargained and enforceable in the union contract. The beneficial retirement plan with a 2-to-1 match is a bargained benefit. Working conditions such as paid leave time, educational assistance, course fee courtesy and basic rules governing the work environment are contractual.
Why would a professional want to be a union member?
APA members are professionals who may question the need for a union environment, but every employee deserves job security, financial security and equitable treatment. APA is a professional union and provides educational opportunities to maximize contractual provisions, access benefits and advises employees on employment law and rights in the workplace.
MSU is a great place to work but it is still an employer and not a benevolent charity. Employees need advocacy and collectivism to balance the power such a large employer wields.
Why does an employee of MSU need to be a union member?
MSU is technically a state agency and has the complexity of a $2 billion organization. Union membership provides a legal avenue to deal with basic employment issues and have an advocate whose purpose is to provide equitable treatment and navigation of the MSU bureaucracy. Strength does come in numbers. One voice of one employee on campus can fall on deaf ears, but a representative of the union has legal access to information and to problem-solving for individual members and the collective whole.
Why be a member of APA/MEA/NEA?
The employment safety net of the union is not just the contract. The contract is the framework to deal with specific contractual issues. The MEA Legal Representation policy only covers members in good-standing. The Legal Representation Policy covers all employment law that includes FMLA, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wage and Hour Laws and all other employment laws. A law that a member does not have the financial resources to enforce, is not a protection.
Additionally, only full members are eligible for significant home and auto insurance discounts though MEA Financial Services, member benefits, a free life insurance policy, and $1 million liability insurance for all matters that occur related to performing the duties of your campus employment position.
APA is the largest union on campus, representing more than 2,400 members employed in more than 300 positions.
MEA is the largest union in Michigan, representing k-12 and higher ed units across the state of Michigan including CMU, Ferris State, Saginaw Valley, and many community colleges.
NEA is the largest union in the United States, representing 3 million members nationwide. Our collective voice affords us the power and influence we exercise on behalf of each individual member.
Union Membership? Yes!
The quality of work life for an APA member is good. In order to sustain and build the strength of an employee community, it takes individuals dedicated to their profession and a union committed to represent its members both individually and collectively. Let’s continue to build a future for you, MSU and APA together.